DELANO, Calif. (KERO) — As we approach the California primaries and the U.S. midterm elections, a local non-partisan designated organization polled almost 600 Kern County residents to figure out what issues concern them the most. The numbers show, crime is on the mind of lots of people.
The Delano-based group is focused on engaging the young voters of Kern County but wanted to get an idea of what all residents in Kern are prioritizing.
They asked residents of ages 18 and up, all genders and races, to number their top priorities among four topics: gun and gang violence, affordable house and homelessness, air and water quality, and healthcare access.
“This midterm election, for example, there is a lot of different things happening. All the House Representatives are up for re-election, one third of Senate is up for re-election. Here in California, specifically, Governor Newsom is up for re-election, and there are also a lot of local state and Senate seats,” said 23ABC’s Political Analyst, Ivy Cargile.
With the census redistricting communities for our upcoming elections, the poll put together by LOUD for Feb. 17 is meant to help bring these issues up to local candidates.
“We want to be informed around what issues Kern County voters see as a top priority and we want to hold elected officials and potential candidates accountable to those issues,” said Jose Orellana, Co-director of LOUD for Tomorrow.
The poll results showed a top priority is gang and gun violence, then affordable housing and homelessness, followed by air and water quality, and healthcare access and costs.
Another poll, surveying almost 9,000 registered voters across the state released on Wednesday by UC Berkeley and the IGC Center, reflects that crime is at the top of voters’ minds with a majority of all regions surveyed saying it has increased or increased a lot.
Cargile, Associate Professor of Political Science at California State University, Bakersfield, said gun violence is the highest on the list of priorities is a reflection of the current state of violence.
“Increasing poverty in some areas, in Kern County as well as other parts of the nation, folks are resorting to levels of violence that perhaps we have not seen in the past,” said Cargile.
Cargile said air and water quality in Kern County has historically been a priority, but where it is placed in this poll does not come as a surprise.
“We always see fluctuations in what the topmost important issue for residents in Kern County is depending on what is happening, what is salient in their minds. Also depends on what options were given in a survey.”
According to Orellana, the options offered were a result of previous community engagement and polling which they then got the top four to put in the larger scale poll.
But still, Cargile has concerns. “Something that stood out to me is that they only surveyed 598 residents, which is a bit low.”
“At this time, we have limited resources and this poll was still a representative sample of our voters, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and we are still confident that this same size really reflects the issues that voters are facing,” said Orellana.
Orellana said they will continue to poll when more resources are available but, in the meantime, will send this information to the Kern County Board of Supervisors and Delano City Council, as a recommendation for a county and city-wide centered approach to gun violence.
The county said when they receive the information, they will review the responses and community input.
On their side, they are also conducting a poll through their website and inviting the community to give their input.
The poll is asking about what services matter most to residents in the county.
Cargile said collecting this information is important for candidates to see what issues are top in the areas they are running.
“I applaud the fact that we have some kind of information that the campaigns, as they get going, can look at this and say, ‘okay here are the things we probably do want to talk about’.”
Cargile said she hopes more education and conversation around the topics will encourage people to show up at the polls.
The midterms will be in November and primaries in June. You can reach out to the county elections division for more information on how to register.